20:22
19/10/21
Undisclosed Location near the Verve Poetry Festival Headquarters

Dear reader,

If this message gets to you, it means my accomplices in investigating that mysterious organisation known as Verve Poetry Festival have trusted you with the sensitive information I have discovered. It has cost me many long days and sleepless nights, but I’ll consider it all worth it if I can share the precious knowledge I have gained with those who need to hear it. That’s right. I know about the Verve 2022 Programme.

DISCLAIMER: Due to a brief and terrifying encounter with Verve mogul Stuart Bartholomew (for some reason dressed in a strange, multi-coloured coat?), my investigation was unfortunately cut short. So, I don’t know everything. Yet.

VERVE COMPETITION EVENT: BEGINNINGS

Now, the first bit of news may be a shock to you. I have it from a very reliable source (Verve Poetry Festival Socials) that 2022 sees the return of the Verve Poetry Competition event. After the organisation’s mysterious disappearance last year, we thought we were rid of these rallying events, where poets and festival-goers gather to celebrate the publication of yet another book of dangerous verses promoting such horrors as ‘community’, ‘diversity’ and ‘beginnings’.

I took my investigation one step further and am excited to share that one Caroline Bird has, in a confidential email to myself, said – and I quote:

"What do you mean? Of course I'm judging the Verve Poetry Festival Competition and hosting the anthology launch event in 2022. It's not a secret. I'm reading the competition entries right now."

So she admits it!

Verve Poetry Festival are of course responsible for yearly events of this nature, with an impressive four poetry (propaganda?!) anthologies under their belt, all of which are, chillingly, openly available for order on the Verve Poetry Press website.

THE ANNUAL VERVE POETRY FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE LECTURE

Another event we thought we’d seen the back of but which seems to be returning with a vengeance is The Annual Verve Poetry Festival Performance Lecture, with co-conspirators The Poetry School. If you’ve had the misfortune to witness this dangerous spectacle, you’ll know that the event gives a particular poet a chance to deliver a presentation that is part poetry performance, part academic discourse – a hazardous blend that is sure to end in disaster.

Previous perpetrators have been Anthony Anaxagorou and Yomi Sode, both of whom denied knowing anything about the identity of their successor and both of whom also said:

"please leave my house, how did you even get in here?"

A mere coincidence, or did they collude on their stories before I came calling?

In the past, these lectures have covered such dangerous topics as our definition of performance poetry and how our current tech and culture shape poets’ methods and aims – so who knows what madness they’ll spread next?

EDUCATED SPECULATION

Like garish pink t-shirts and unsettling shelves of books, there are some things we can be certain of with Verve. After careful observation for the past six years, and intensive study of past programmes, I’ve mapped out some near-certainties for the schedule, although I’ve yet to find hard evidence:

    • Headline events with ridiculously   good  dangerous readings from poets both on and off our radar
    • Workshops in which the Verve agents spread The Word, pushing people to *shudders* approach poetry in new and interesting ways
    • Open mic opportunities that invite the unsuspecting public to be indoctrinated into a life of poetry and performance

Then again, they’ve only gone an added a mysterious fifth day – so who knows what could be in store??

SOME STRNAGE BUT INEXPLICABLE SIGHTS

Finally, I’ll share with you some observations I made which I have not yet been able to explain, in the hopes that my network will be able to discern what sinister meaning lurks behind…

    • On a stakeout at Verve HQ, I heard a four-piece jazz band playing live

    • A distinctly podium-shaped package was delivered to the doors in the dead of night

    • Various visits from a variety of people, some of whom were speaking languages I am waiting for a colleague to identify, and lastly

    • The sound of a typewriter tapping industriously through the afternoon

Sadly, this is all I’ve been able to uncover so far, but if you’ve been able to glean anything else don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m going underground now, of course, to avoid whatever crack team Stuart Bartholomew is sending to silence me, but if you tag @VervePoetryFest in your reports, I’ll be sure to see it, and add it to the dossier. For now, stay safe. Poet with caution.

Survey Verve on Socials!